No! Interview you!!!
It's Like Magic
Names have been changed (or just plainly scrubbed from the article) to protect the particular website(s) in question.
But remember children, ALL web apps are presumed stupid until proven otherwise.
The last two positions I applied for used the same web app for the initial point of contact and said web app sucks... or that is to say, I really didn't appreciate it because using a website (as apposed to email) doesn't do anything for me. In short, the site was just a web form (or so I believe, who really knows, by saying it sucks, clearly, I have indicated that I am no fan of the site... or any site like it) where prospective employees fill out a few (short) fields in pursuit of employment. I think the fields for the last position I applied for went something like.
- Are you willing to commute to our offices?
- Are you a US Citizen.
- Rate yourself as a programmer.
- Tell us about a recent project.
But all of this can be handled by an email.
To respond to this offer, please send us an email with the answer to the following questions utilizing the formatting specified below. We will be parsing your email automatically, so please format your response EXACTLY as noted below. Any responses that don't follow this format will not be read, because, you know, we're going to parse your email (through a program, because we're programmers, and doing stuff like that is sort of exactly the sort of thing that we like to do); so if you don't format your email correctly, we're likely only going to see a blank form.
Name: >For example, your name goes here.<
Email: >No email, no response. Also, bracketing your answer isn't required.<
Phone: >We probably won't actually call you until we email each other back and forth a few times<
Commute: >No commute equals no job. Also, the text to each entry should not contain any newline characters, as that's where we're going to chop each answer. So, you get from the ':' to the first newline (or at least, that's the part we will get). Also, if you don't know what a newline is, there is absolutely no point in your preceding any further in the application process.<
Citizen: >It's OK if you're not. We're just not going to pay you as much. So, actually, H-1 Visa preferred<
Rating: >Are you a good programmer? Feel free to lie. Or that is to say. We'll find out at the interview if you're lying. But then, you might not get an interview if you don't lie. More importantly, asking means we value egotism.<
Project: >Go ahead and brag. We want you to.<
Oh, and by the way, we'll rate your answers, one by one, interview the highest scoring first, but make the final hiring decision based upon a percentage of that initial score prorated according to how honest we feel your answers were. So please, tell us you're a 9 and when it turns out you're only a 6 (or we think that you're only a 6), we'll knock 33% off your score, and hire the guy who was honest and only claimed to be a 5. But then, if you really think you're a 9 and we only think you're a 6, it was never going to be a good match anyway. So, really, no loss. Anyway, hope to hear from you soon.
Seriously, why all these stupd web forms?
I mean, it's easy to say sour grapes. The guy must not be getting any offers. But in truth, I'm not really worried about that. I'm semi-retired. And when my confidence is anywhere near the level it should be, I tell myself:
- First: I'll get a job when I really need it. The only question is when that particular eventuality shall come to pass and how much I'll make when it actually does. Until then, I'm shooting for the stars. I don't even have a BS in CS and I regularly apply for Phd positions.
- Second: When I no longer need (or want) a job, the offers will come pouring in. It's just the way the universe works. As in, when I actually meet your requirements, I'll meet EVERYONE's requirements. So, tell me again, why would I want to work for you over them when you didn't believe in me when actually believing in me would take some sort of risk, insight, or act of faith? Which probably sounds a lot like grapes, but really it's just being reasonable. At some point, supply meets demand. It's no trick to get there with the market (i.e. with everyone else). The trick is beating the market. But I digress. If you want above average employees, then why wouldn't I want an above average employer?
- Third (or perhaps this should really just be the second and we can pretend that second bit never happened): I get the same level of rejection from emails, but those aren't eliciting a rant. The rant isn't about me not getting hired. It's about a specific step in the hiring process, which I find annoying... and if I was skilled enough (in enough demand in the job market) to avoid this annoyance, you can bet that I would. And if you are an interviewer or looking to hire, that in a nutshell should be your takeaway from this here little rant.
So, to me, I think I can rule out sour grapes. Web forms are really just an annoyance (or something to rant about). But the point remains: I do not believe I provide better (honest, more thorough) answers on a web form than I would composing an email. In fact, I know my spelling and composition are worse. And quite frankly, I have every expectation that my answers on these web based questionnaires will become ever briefer:
Name: Brett Paufler
Phone: (925) 820-8810
Citizen: US Citizen
Rating: Python = 3/5, 2 years experience
I could write more, but I'm not going to. And heck, I'm a wordy guy. I seriously don't mind spending an hour writing a custom cover page. It's sort of fun. But filling out a custom web form. Seriously, I could care less.
Yes, but why Web Forms?
Or any other inane web based app?
- Maybe they're trying to make this particular web app a thing? As in, maybe the companies I've looked at are linked to this particular website that I've come to hate through some sort of VC connection (thus indicating the VC's are idiots and not worth of my time, but once again, I digress).
- It's a liability shield. The company looking for employees won't ever see your (my) application unless certain criteria are met, whatever those might be (like, say, not having a rant on their personal website insulting said same companies hiring practice and/or business model).
- Or if that's not clear, answers for different fields could get different point scores and applications below a certain threshold aren't looked at by the target company.
And really, that's the best I can come up with.
But then again, coming up with the best I could come up with was (in large measure) a major purpose of this rant: to get a handle on the phenomenon, to come to peace with the reality of it, and to form a strategy for future submissions, because the beast isn't going away. And that strategy would be short, sweet, and too the point... unlike what I would actually do in a cover letter.
And, of course, another by product of a rant such as this is killing (hopefully) any hope of ever getting hired by said same stupid web app developers... or any company tangentially associated with them.
Because if we are all being honest (and truthfully, what's the point if we're not), when I was submitting my latest application, the website choked on the input (refresh, resend, no problem, so it wasn't me), I was redirected to a picture of a cute little kitty cat. Um, yeah. I don't think I care if I get hired or not by a company that thinks redirecting me to a picture of a kitty cat is the proper protocol for system failure. I'm sorry, why was I hoping to work for you in the first place?
Of course, after a little more thought, a more reasoned approach (gad, how I hate reason) would be to acknowledge that I am less motivated to respond to a job offer that requires a web form response and thus it's a weeding out process of sorts. Email I'm more likely to do; web forms, less likely. Ergo Sum: If I actually respond to a web form offer, I must really be interested. But enough, already.
Because you can't keep a good rant down.
Where did you get that idea?
This is where I interview you.
Not unless you click the back button on your browser, that is...
What do I want out of a job?
Pure and simple.
- M is for Money:
- It is what will get me through the door.
- E is for Education & Experience:
- I want to learn on the job, doing something new.
- I want to work amongst those worth working for, to better my craft.
- E is also for Equipment:
- I am never going to fire up 10,000 cores on my own dime. I'd love to do it on yours.
- Also, I have no idea what it means to fire up 10,000 cores.
- P is for Perks:
- Bring Your Pet to Work Day
- Soft Schedules
- Don't Bother to Work Fridays
- Food, Drink, Catered Lunches
- You know, perks.
- The more the merrier.
- Especially that bit about firing up 10,000 cores...
So, anyway, I think I covered what I had to say.
Want great programmers (which might not be me, not yet, anyway) to come flocking to your door? Then coddle them. And believe you me, I for one do not feel coddled when I am asked to fill out some stupid web form.
Seriously, have you guys not heard about email?
Because, I'm like old school. The latest and greatest technologies are not unto me like candy. What I want to do is work with tried and true tools that actually do what they are supposed to do. And fellas, from where I'm sitting, email works: consistently, reliably. And there's not a thing those web forms do that email can't. Except for, perhaps, test how I handle frustration.
And, um, for me, that answer is simple enough: I tend to write a nice long winded rant and post it to my personal website.
Seriously, don't get me started about the appalling small choice of artisan chocolates in this supposedly Well Stocked break room of mine. Come on! I need a few bars of that 72% pure cocoa flowing through my veins before the morning meeting or I'm not good for squat. Going to have to talk to management about that. First thing, right after I get hired somewhere...
Interviewers love side projects
(or so I am told).
But what to code?
The one question on the quiz to which I know the answer.
Code that which you would do if you weren't a programmer.
Or if that's not clear,
one is far more likely to get a job based on their experience,
so why not get some experience in what you'd like to do.
Or if that's (still) not clear,
Practice for the day passion strikes,
if you know what I mean.
But then, if all of the preceding wasn't clear,
you (still-still) probably don't know what I mean.
© copyright 2015 Brett Paufler